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CodaKiller

Can you give away free remakes of old games?

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It's irrelevent whether you give a game away for free, or whether you charge money for it. If someone holds copyright on the game (name of the game, name and likeness of the characters, etc) then there is a good chance they will come after you*.

* That is to say, "good enough chance that it's not worth it". It's not that hard to come up with your own ideas.

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Just to back up the previous posters it is copyright infringement (and possibly trademark infringement) to copy or distribute a copyright work without the owners permission. Makes no difference if money is involved or not.

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Of course, you could try and contact the owner to ask if they are okay with you doing a remake of their game(s). I know of several people on Retro Remakes who've done that and gotten positive replies.

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Technically, it is copyright infringement to remake the game regardless of whether or not you distribute it because it would be considered a derivative product and only copyright owners have the right to make derivatives.

If you are serious about remaking the game, even as a giveaway, then approach the publisher or developer of the original game and ask for permission.

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The developers of the Chrono Trigger remake didn't seem to fare that well:

http://www.opcoder.com/projects/chrono/

So, no, you can't, unless the game isn't under copyright or the license allows you to.

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Names, ideas, concepts and techniques cannot be copyrighted, in other words, the actual game aspect of a game cannot be copyrighted. I don't know why people are implying otherwise to be honest.

The parts of a game that can be copyrighted are sounds (sound effects and music), graphics (photographs, icons, fonts, sprites, etc), literature (instructions, dialogs, etc) and cutscenes.

So you can recreate Pacman without copyright issue provided you don't use the same sound effects and sprites (or sound effects and sprites that have been derived from the originals). If you make brand new sprites and brand new sound effects then you're fine. Though you might not really consider it to be a Pacman clone by then perhaps.

Interestingly, games like Pacman, Pong, Breakout, etc have been involved in such fuzzy litigation that they're basically now a free-for-all for anyone to recreate.

Please note that whilst you might be above the board with copyright, there are other forms of IP that various companies might own, like trademarks for names. If you contact the company who owns some IP relating to a particular game then they'll almost certainly tell you to cease and desist, the fact of the matter is they don't really want to know and may try their best to keep themselves unaware any infringement on games like these as otherwise they're legally obliged to try and do something about it.

Of course, I am not a lawyer, more to the point I am not aware of all IP laws and differences in those laws that vary from country to country.

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Quote:
Original post by dmatter
Names, ideas, concepts and techniques cannot be copyrighted, in other words, the actual game aspect of a game cannot be copyrighted. I don't know why people are implying otherwise to be honest.

Copyright protections include rights to create derivative works.

Clones of games are considered to be derived from the original creative work. This is rarely tested in court because good lawyers will tell their clients to save their money rather than fight for a guaranteed loss.

There are certain parts of gameplay mechanics that are not protected under copyright. Those are usually covered under trademark, trade dress, and other IP protections.

Trying to extract those unprotected parts is simply playing with fire. Even if do manage to implement a game in a completely legal fashion, you can still face a very expensive lawsuit. You would have to spend a fortune to defend yourself in court and (hopefully) prove your case. Unless you have a pile of money to burn, it is not worth the huge risk.

Quote:
If you contact the company who owns some IP relating to a particular game then they'll almost certainly tell you to cease and desist, the fact of the matter is they don't really want to know and may try their best to keep themselves unaware any infringement on games like these as otherwise they're legally obliged to try and do something about it.
Very much false.

Many companies either hire services or have their own people actively and continuously scan the search engines for their product names and keywords.

These companies really DO want to know, and they WILL send a C&D as soon as they find out. For videos, countless youtube movies get takedown notices within minutes or hours of being posted.

My Google-fu is weak right now and I can't find links, but there have been many news stories over the years about homebrew/hobby games getting takedown notices the same day they are placed online.



Do not clone other people's games. Be creative and come up with something of your own.

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Quote:
Original post by dmatterInterestingly, games like Pacman, Pong, Breakout, etc have been involved in such fuzzy litigation that they're basically now a free-for-all for anyone to recreate.

Sorry, but this is very bad advice. Several "high profile" Pong games were shut down by Atari recently, and Pacman is even worse. A big publisher was recently forced to stop selling several Pacman clones after a lawsuit from Hasbro, Atari and some other companies. They're not remotely "free for all".

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